AM's Week 28 Player Picks

Nik Argiropoulos
Steve Rothgeb takes a look at the FPL landscape ahead of Week 22, touching on players worth buying, selling, avoiding and keeping the faith with

Firstly, a reminder that Week 28 is Round 3 of the 2014 Rotoworld PL Cup, where we'll reduce the remaining 452 teams down to 350 ahead of the fourth round in Week 31. Good luck to all remaining fantasy managers.

Check out Steve's Free Kick | Jeremy's First XI

On the subject of Cup competitions, you'll notice when perusing the Week 28 fixtures below that we're a couple short this weekend. Manchester City face Sunderland in the Capital One Cup Final on Sunday afternoon, which means it's a blank Premier League week for both sides, as well as their originally scheduled opponents, Manchester United and West Brom.

If you're holding the likes of Robin van Persie, Yaya Toure and Adam Johnson at large discounts and can't bear to let them go then you have the option to utilise the substitutes bench, but it's worth noting that next week (Week 29) will be a blank week for Manchester City (again), Sunderland (again) Liverpool, Arsenal, Everton, Newcastle, Swansea, Aston Villa, Hull and West Ham. To make up for all these gaps we're going to have a whole bunch of double-weeks coming up in the run-in, so discounts become less relevant very quickly as you're forced to approach these weeks in isolation.


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Week 28 Fixtures
Aston Villa v Norwich
Everton v West Ham
Fulham v Chelsea
Hull City v Newcastle
Southampton v Liverpool
Stoke v Arsenal
Swansea v Crystal Palace
Tottenham v Cardiff City

Despite the terrible performance at Norwich in Week 27, I'm sticking my neck on the line and claiming Tottenham at home to Cardiff is the stand-out fixture. It would seem unlikely that Tim Sherwood's men could be THAT bad two weeks in a row, plus Cardiff have just lost 4-0 at home to Hull and look doomed right now, so it's comfortable home win for me. Chelsea's trip to Fulham is another game one to focus on, as the current Premier League leaders face off against the bottom side. Anything other than an away win at Craven Cottage would be a massive shock.


Everton come up against in-form West Ham and I expect them to bounce back from their recent defeats at White Hart Lane and Stamford Bridge. In both matches the Toffees were very unlucky to lose, and while the Hammers' turn-around in fortune has been remarkable, a trip to Goodison Park may be a step too far. Mind you, I said that in Week 27 about West Ham's game against Southampton, so take my advice on this subject with a pinch of salt.


Arsenal and Liverpool face tricky away fixtures at Stoke and Southampton respectively and I don't envisage clean sheets, but both sides have enough attacking quality to take the three points. Hull City must also be considered favourites at home to Newcastle, with the Shane Long-Nikica Jelavic partnership acquired in January working wonders for Steve Bruce's side, and Newcastle still unconvincing since losing Yohan Cabaye.

I reckon Swansea v Crystal Palace could be entertaining, with the Swans showing similar improvement to that of the Eagles since changing their manager, while Aston Villa v Norwich looks like a low scoring draw, at least on paper.

With that in mind, click over to the next page to view the Week 28 player recommendations.

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KEEPERS
Petr Cech - Extremely expensive at his current price, but Chelsea are in super-mean-mode right now (just four goals conceded in their last 13 matches) so Cech is the safest bet for a clean sheet, facing rock-bottom Fulham.
Hugo Lloris - Unlucky to be on the losing side after a string of fine saves against Norwich in Week 27, Lloris should have an easier time of things this weekend at home to Cardiff. Then most affordable premium keeper.
Brad Guzan - Like Lloris, Guzan did not deserve to taste to defeat as his side went down 1-0 to Newcastle last weekend, but it's left his price at a very reasonable £6million for a home game against Norwich. Worth considering if you need to save money for your outfield players.
Michel Vorm - Four goals conceded at Anfield means Vorm's value is hovering around the £7million mark, which could prove great value with a home game against (an admittedly-improved) Crystal Palace. If you're going cheap on your keeper I marginally prefer Guzan, but there's not much between the two.

DEFENDERS
Leighton Baines - Baines has been very quiet recently, failing to hit double figures in the Yahoo game since Week 21. Too quiet to consider spanking £17million on really. However, he's up against West Ham and we all remember what happened in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, don't we? No? Well, he scored two of the finest free-kicks you're ever likely to see, and it would be typical if something similar were to happen this weekend. Football can be funny like that.
John Terry - I'm 100% convinced that Terry had nothing to do with Chelsea's winner against Everton, but he ran off celebrating as if he'd got the final touch, claimed the goal in the post-game interview and it appears he's fooled everyone. The resultant match-winning goal points combined with a clean sheet have seen his price sky-rocket, but if you have money to burn and want a Blues defender then he's the pick against Fulham. Him or Branislav Ivanovic (flip a coin).
Kyle Naughton - At this point in time Kyle Walker is doubtful for Tottenham's very winnable home game against Cardiff, so his name-sake Naughton would fill in at right-back once again. He's priced at just £7million and was last seen taking corners in the defeat at Norwich. If Walker returns then Danny Rose is also struggling with an injury, so it's likely Naughton would then fill in at left-back.
Ryan Bertrand - Subbed early with illness against Newcastle, the on-loan full back had been suffering with a virus pre-game but early reports suggest a recovery. Bertrand's not pulling massive numbers but he's cheap and playing at home, so if he's fit he should be a bench option at worst.
Alex Bruce or James Chester - One of these men will partner Curtis Davies in the heart of the Hull defence. Both are well priced (much cheaper than Davies) considering their winnable fixture at home to Newcastle, so should be considered, but we'll need to monitor Friday's team to see who's set to get the nod.
John Stones - With Phil Jagielka out injured for the next couple of weeks, young Stones should deputise alongside Sylvain Distin in the heart of Everton's defence. With a winnable home game against West Ham he's a terrific bargain option at a shade over £5million.
Paul Dummett - A knee injury has kept Davide Santon out recently and he remains a major doubt for the weekend trip to Hull, meaning young Dummett may get another chance. Newcastle are unlikely to keep a clean sheet, but the full-back is capable of picking points in a similar way to the far-more-expensive Mathieu Debuchy (intercepting passes and winning tackles), so could prove a solid cheaper option.
Jon Flanagan - A guaranteed starter, averaging 6 points per week despite Liverpool's lack of cleans sheets. There are better options, but I've tried to present you with some sub-£10million defensive alternatives this week as many of the usual suspects are just too expensive at their current prices. Flanagan is one of the alternatives.
Neil Taylor - If Ben Davies remains out then Taylor is a bargain for Swansea's match at home to Crystal Palace. Another one to check on Friday.

MIDFIELDERS
Steven Gerrard - I'll be honest; there is a real lack of exciting midfield options for Week 28. So when in doubt, go with the tried and tested. Gerrard is the top scoring midfield on the Yahoo game, taking set pieces and penalties for the current best attacking side in the Premier League.
Adam Lallana - The second highest scoring midfielder. Southampton are in mid-table limbo right now and have nothing to lose, so I expect them to go for the 3 points against Liverpool. This should ensure a wide-open game, which means Lallana will have plenty of point scoring opportunities against Liverpool's leaky defence.
Paulinho - A poor week for the Brazilian at Norwich, but the whole Tottenham side were poor and as mentioned in the fixture analysis it's unlikely that will happen again against a team in Cardiff's form. The Welsh side have lost their midfield enforcer Gary Medel due to injury and Paulinho could profit with his late surges in to the box.
Raheem Sterling - The winger put in another excellent display against Swansea (I could watch his pass for Sturridge's opener on loop) and his pace is sure to cause Southampton problems. Sterling has already played himself in to England's World Cup squad and there's no sign of him slowing down.
Mesut Ozil - We saw the effect a rest had on Olivier Giroud, as the striker returned in Week 27 looking sharp and grabbing a brace. Ozil was afforded a similar rest last weekend and is tipped to start at Stoke. If you want an Arsenal midfielder in your team then I'd go for him over Santi Cazorla, who costs almost double.
Oscar - The baby-faced midfielder has been having a very quiet time of things recently, with Jose Mourinho suggesting a bit of burn-out, but a 45 minute rest against Everton and a night off at Galatasary in the Champions League should mean Oscar gets the start at Fulham. A great opportunity to break out of his slump against the team who have allowed the most shots on goal in the Premier League this season.
Tom Ince - A January acquisition, Ince had a huge debut before finding things tougher against Manchester United, but he can thrive in a potentially open game at Swansea. On set pieces, he's an interesting option at an affordable price.
Jonjo Shelvey - Withdrawn early against Liverpool with a tight hamstring, Shelvey is being given a rest in the Europa League to ensure he's fit for Crystal Palace this weekend. Capable of the spectacular, he's one pick that could separate you from the crowd.
Christian Eriksen - Only Tim Sherwood can explain why Eriksen has been dumped on the bench in recent weeks, but the lack of a creative spark at Norwich should (hopefully) see the talented Dane back in the starting XI against Cardiff. He'll have a point to prove to his manager and would take on set piece duties.
Ross Barkley - Roberto Martinez has used Barkley sparingly in recent weeks, but after two appearances from the bench at Spurs and Chelsea he's being tipped to start against West Ham and costs less than £6million in the Yahoo game.

STRIKERS
Emmanuel Adebayor - Tottenham's best player outfield player at Norwich, although that's not really saying much. But Adebayor worked hard along the line and dropped back in to midfield in an attempt to make things happen. However, he found himself isolated in the forward areas of the pitch for most the game and hence returned a big fat zero. Many of us took that hit and are likely to be tempted to sell, but this is Cardiff, at home, so I'm sticking.
Luis Suarez - One goal in eight games, it's a drought! But Suarez is still putting up solid points and you cannot risk being without him. However, now that he shares points and goals with Sturridge t's no longer a no-brainer to give him the captain's armband every week, so if you're looking to make up ground on people above you in the fantasy standings, perhaps consider switching.
Daniel Sturridge - Nine goals in eight games and looking for a ninth goal-scoring league game in a row at Southampton this weekend. In the form of his life, approaching Ruud van Nistlerooy's record of scoring in ten consecutive Premier League games, Sturridge should be in your team.
Eden Hazard - With uncertainty over whether Fernando Torres or Samuel Eto'o gets the start, Hazard is the safe bet if you're convinced you want a Chelsea striker at Fulham. However, he's expensive and played 90 minutes on Wednesday night, so you must feel very confident of a big performance (or hold him at discount) to field him.
Shane Long - Fellow new signing Nikica Jelavic grabbed the goals and the headlines in Week 27, but I'm tipping Long again if you're picking between the two new Hull strikers for their winnable home game against Newcastle.
Olivier Giroud - As mentioned earlier, Giroud looked like a new man against Sunderland, taking he's two goals well and adding a nice assist for massive fantasy returns. The rest appears to have done him the world of good and he'll lead the line against Stoke refreshed and full of confidence.
Wilfried Bony - Week 28 brings a home against Crystal Palace for Bony, who reached double figures for the season with his Anfield brace. With Michu out for far longer than expected it has been down to Bony to keep on firing in the battle for Premier League survival, and so far he's proved up to the task.
Rickie Lambert - Liverpool's leaky defence and Martin Skrtel's clumsiness will lead to chances for Lambert from open play and possibly from the penalty spot.
Romelu Lukaku - Back from injury, and reports suggest he'll be back in the starting line-up for Everton's home game against West Ham. He'll probably only get 60 minutes, but on his day that's all a fit Lukaku needs to return a monster score.


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So those are the players I'm considering for Week 28. It's been a busy week in the Argiropoulos household so I'm yet to look at my own team, but as soon as I do I'll post its current state in the comments section below this column.

How's your Week 28 team looking? Who are you handing the captaincy to? Are you still in the cup?